Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld
Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld (Melanie Bell)

Broward Circuit Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld ruled in favor of Fort Lauderdale on a zoning issue that dashes Henderson Behavioral Health Inc.’s hopes for a housing project for the homeless.

Related: Judge Jeffrey Streitfeld To Determine If Fort Lauderdale Is Holding Up Housing Project

Following an all-day hearing Tuesday, Streitfeld ruled Wednesday that the city’s interpretation of its social services residential facility ordinance was not unreasonable, “and therefore he is not going to overrule the city’s interpretation,” said Henderson attorney Michael W. Moskowitz of Moskowitz, Mandell, Salim & Simowitz in Fort Lauderdale.

Henderson obtained preliminary approval last fall for a $1.8 million grant from the Florida Housing Finance Corp. to create apartments for formerly homeless people with mental illness. The property under contract was the 15-unit Riverbend Apartments, an old building in a historic district that includes the Museum of Discovery & Science and the Josephine Leiser Opera Center.

The city maintained the project is transitional housing. Henderson argued it did not meet that definition because any treatment services would be offsite, tenants were not required to be Henderson clients, and the housing would not include the staffing and group setting required for a halfway house. Henderson faced a drop-dead deadline of April 9 to get the city to sign off on the zoning to seek the state grant. The city was represented by Assistant City Attorney Ginger Wald.